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September 17, 2009

Soda Tax in the News

Proposed taxes on sugar sodas seem to be getting a lot of ink lately. President Obama thinks it's worth considering (blogged here).

A recent study by a star-studded cast of nutrition and obesity experts published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week is stirring things up. :The Public Health and Economic Benefits of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, (by Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D., Thomas Farley, M.D., M.P.H., Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H., Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., Frank J. Chaloupka, Ph.D., Joseph W. Thompson, M.D., M.P.H., and David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D.)

. . .Taxation has been proposed as a means of reducing the intake of [sugar-sweetened] beverages and thereby lowering health care costs, as well as a means of generating revenue that governments can use for health programs. Currently, 33 states have sales taxes on soft drinks (mean tax rate, 5.2%), but the taxes are too small to affect consumption and the revenues are not earmarked for programs related to health. This article examines trends in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, evidence linking these beverages to adverse health outcomes, and approaches to designing a tax system that could promote good nutrition and help the nation recover health care costs associated with the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. . . .

New York Times, Sept. 16, 2009: Proposed Tax on Sugary Beverages Debated

. . . a team of prominent doctors, scientists and policy makers says it could be a powerful weapon in efforts to reduce obesity, in the same way that cigarette taxes have helped curb smoking.

The group, which includes the New York City health commissioner, Thomas Farley, and Joseph W. Thompson, Arkansas surgeon general, estimates that a tax of a penny an ounce on sugary beverages would raise $14.9 billion in its first year, which . . .

ABCNews.go.com, Sept. 16, 2009: Public Health Leaders Propose Soda Tax

. . ."A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is really a double-win," said Dr. David Ludwig, a co-author of the paper and director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children's Hospital, Boston. "We can raise much-needed dollars while likely reducing obesity prevalence, which is a major driver of health care costs, the paper states. "Ultimately the government needs to raise more money to cover the deficit, and in terms of ways of raising that revenue, a tax on sugar sweetened beverages is really a no-brainer.". . .

September 17, 2009 in Legislation, nutrition policy, Obesity | Permalink

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